A Bridge of Knowledge Exchange
A visiting professor will not only research and develop diabetes treatment; he will also expand his Scottish network to include leading researchers from the Danish diabetes community.
Recently, and very successfully, Professor Nicholas M. Morton from Edinburgh University, Scotland, established a Scottish network for leading diabetes researchers (EdiaNET). He is now expanding the network to include committed researchers from the Danish diabetes communities. It is a major plus for the scientific work, which the Danish Diabetes Academy has just facilitated with a grant for a visiting professorship at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research, University of Copenhagen.
“The idea of the researcher network is to create educational links (graduates, PhD, study opportunities) between leading diabetes researchers. We regard the network as a knowledge-sharing bridge,” says Nicholas M. Morton, Director of Postgraduate Studies at the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Cardiovascular Science.
The main purpose of the visiting professorship in Copenhagen is for Nicholas M. Morton, in collaboration with Professor Kei Sakamoto – one of the world’s leading AMPK biology experts – to work on improving diabetes treatment and possibly develop a new medicine. AMPK is an important ‘energy-sensitive protein’ in our body and a key target for the most commonly used diabetes medication: metformin.
The basis of Morton and Sakamoto’s collaboration is sulphide: the gas we all know from the smell of rotten eggs. Sulphide is naturally formed in small amounts when food metabolises in the body. This is good for our metabolism, unless it reaches harmful amounts. It is not a risk for animals. They have a safety system: a group of proteins that break down the sulphide gases. Morton’s group at the University of Edinburgh have discovered that these proteins – TSTs – play an important role in the way the liver causes blood sugar levels to rise.
“We have discovered that stimulation of the TST protein can help reduce blood sugar levels, and we are now investigating how this can be used to develop a new medicine for people with diabetes,” he explains.
In their work, they have also discovered that the accumulation of sulphide that occurs when animals lack TST has an effect on another important protein: AMPK. As mentioned above, it is an important ‘energy-sensitive protein’ in our body and a key target for the most commonly used diabetes medication: metformin. “This new discovery suggests that we may be better able to understand how sulphide works, and ultimately even utilise the new way, in which sulphide uses other beneficial proteins, to improve diabetes treatment,” he says.
Nicholas M. Morton
Kei Sakamoto may be contacted through:
Tel: +45 35 33 40 71 & +45 93 50 91 41
Danish Diabetes Academy
Managing Director Tore Christiansen
Tel: +45 29 64 67 64